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And the Beach Goes On

Despite rain, Tel Aviv shore comes to New York, pleasing most

Jesse Oxfeld
June 22, 2009
The Central Park beach yesterday.(Ynet)

The Central Park beach yesterday.(Ynet)

Yesterday was many things: Father’s Day, the first day of summer, and, not insignificantly, the day Israeli tourism officials spent somewhere around $150,000 to set up a mock Tel Aviv beach in New York’s Central Park, to celebrate the Israeli city’s centennial. We were a touch skeptical of the marketing effort—there seems something a little silly about trucking tons of sand to a grassy Manhattan field and then pretending it’s a Mediterranean shoreline—but we’ve got to admit the pictures of a sandy Naumberg bandshell, that area just south of the Bethesda Terrace and just north of the mall, look rather lovely. (We’re not complaining about the Kadima-playing sabras, either.) Indeed, today’s various press reports seem to suggest a good time was had by all, even a French tourist who told Ynet he’d never seen such a vibrant beach and that he therefore now wants to visit the real one. (No doubt music to the ears of corporate sponsor El Al.) Only a few people were unhappy: JTA editor Ami Eden, who discovered both that the free trip to Israel he’d won didn’t include airfare and that his daughter lost her Crocs, and the people at Al-Awda, the Palestinian right to return coalition in New York, who issued a statement to Mondoweiss blogger Antony Loewenstein noting that “in reality the event is a celebration of ethnic cleansing and genocide.” Also, there were popsicles.

Jesse Oxfeld, a former executive editor and publisher of Tablet Magazine, is a freelance theater critic. He was The New York Observer’s theater critic from 2009 to 2014.

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